A can of cooking spray.

It may sound harmless—even counterintuitive—but using a nonstick cooking spray, such as Pam or Smart Balance, can damage your pan’s nonstick finish. 

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Cooking sprays leave a film that adheres to the nonstick surface and is tough to remove with just soap and water. Over time, that buildup of propellant reduces a pan’s performance, and food may start to stick to it. Instead, try a light seasoning of butter or olive oil—which is what we use during our nonstick food-release tests, says Cindy Fisher, CR’s lead cookware tester. Then we fry eggs and evaluate how easily they slide off. A pan that gets an Excellent score in this test (such as the GreenPan) allows eggs to slide off without any assistance and without bits left behind.

Looking for a new nonstick pan? Check out a few of our top-performing models below

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Red Copper Nonstick

Price: $20

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Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the November 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.